By Arthur Flynn


There was a vast range and variety in the subject matter of the films of Martin Scorsese covering Raging Bull, The Colour of Money to The Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun.

In 2002 he was to add Gangs of New York, a fictionalised historical drama set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of Lower Manhattan to this list.

This was the end of a three decade crusade for Scorsese as he had wanted to make this film since the mid-1970s. He had grown up in New York’s ‘Little Italy’ in the 1950s. He noticed that there were parts of his neighbourhood that were much older than the rest. He had heard the stories and gossip and horrible events.

Since he read Herbert Asbury’s book The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld, about the city’s 19th century criminal underworld he found it a revelation and saw the potential for an epic film.

The screenplay was written Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan, inspired by Herbert Asbury’s 1927 non-fiction book, The Gangs of New York.

Scorsese shot the film in the Cinecitta Studios in Rome on a budget of $75 million. As with all his films there was a strong production team headed by producers Alberto Grimaldi and Harvey Weinstein, cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, musical director Howard Shore and editor Thelma Schoonmaker. It was distributed by Miramax.

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